Sanctuary

(Meditating on Psalm 84)

How lovely is Your tabernacle,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, even faints
For the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
(Psalm 84:1-2)

One of the many things that I love about our Church, JESUS MIRACLE CRUSADE INTERNATIONAL MINISTRY, is its offering of a 24/7 sanctuary. That is, a sanctuary for the weary soul and the sick body.

All over the country, there are outreach stations, pastoral houses and fasting houses where one could take refuge. These are not towering cathedrals, no, they are far from such. In fact, some outreach stations could be so bare with only curtains for walls, but these could be havens for anyone looking for rest, both for the soul and the flesh.

In these houses, the workers of the Lord’s vineyard praise and worship night and day, with fasting and prayers. Their soulful singing and worship invite the glory of the Lord, hence, though the place is not built with marble and hardwood or gilded columns, God’s anointing descends and imbues the worshipers with power from on high.

Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
They will still be praising You. Selah 
(v. 4)

I was one who ran to God’s sanctuary often. When my body was so sick and couldn’t seem to find the way to heal, I ran to this sanctuary. In fact, our whole family lived there for a season, in Pampanga Fasting House. I found great comfort in plunging myself at the feet of Jesus in His sanctuary, completely yielding myself to His mercy. I believed in His existence. I believed He sees and knows and moves among the children of men. I believed He heals. I had to believe and I did, with all my being. That’s why one afternoon when I thought I was breathing my last, I signalled for the one caring for me to call for the prayer warriors who were praying and fasting to pray for me. And even when I knew it could be my last breath, I was believing and surrendering, and He proved to me that He is real and true, faithful and unfailing.

Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage. 
(v. 5)

They go from strength to strength… (v. 7)

One can trust God in His sanctuary which is filled with His anointing and power. One can run into this place, not to gaze at the magnificent paintings and murals on the ceilings and walls for these are only found in cathedrals and basilicas, but to find solace for the soul and healing for the body.

This is what sanctuary really means.

It was where Sis. Dina and her dying daughter ran to when the doctors in the hospital could no longer do anything for Janna. They ran to the fasting house in Sauyo, Novaliches in Quezon City where praying and fasting sisters awaited them. And Sis. Dina, the fraught mother, found solace to her soul, and Janna found healing to her body.

When Sis. Sarah was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and she was told by the doctor that only surgery could prolong her life, she refused it but instead travelled to the same fasting house to find strength and solace there. And when her tumor broke open while she was travelling in public transport and blood leaked out of her blouse, she was determined to reach God’s sanctuary. And she arrived there where sisters in Christ ministered to her.

Like what I did in 2004 when I lived in Pampanga Fasting House, comforted day and night by constant praising and strengthened by prayers with fasting, so did Sis. Sarah. She lived in God’s sanctuary until the day the Lord brought down His healing upon her, and she rose up from her sick bed.

And there are still many who run to God’s sanctuary to take refuge there, at any time of day or night. This is declared in their testimonies. I can’t possibly mention each one.

God is real and He makes known His power among men. The kingdom of God has come near to [us] (Luke 10:9). It is manifested through His amazing testimonies.

For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
(v. 11)

Read in full the testimonies mentioned above:

To read more of God’s amazing testimonies, click here.

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Journey with Jesus,

How Have We Been Redeeming the Time?

One evening last week, I received a “blanket” text message from the main Church of Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry. Beloved Hon. Pastor Wilde Almeda had seen a vision during prayer. He saw the Lord in tears. He was weeping because there were brethren who turned their backs on Him and had chosen to embrace the world. And there were others whose love had grown cold. He wanted to warn everyone that His coming is very near. Then the beloved pastor saw heaven open and the Lord handed trumpets to the angels. The Lord Jesus is coming very soon, so the beloved pastor’s earnest reminder is for everyone to be fervent in serving the Lord, to be vigilant and to not let the enemy deceive anyone.

After reading the important message, these words instantly came to mind: “redeeming the time”.

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Eph. 5:15-17)

And I asked myself, “How have I been redeeming the time?” I realized that I came short in fulfilling this.

I had seen in other devotional blogs (and I had written it on mine, too) how this phrase had often been used, but when I read the urgent message about the vision, it was only then that I really put my whole attention to it.

We might have been consistently sharing the Gospel and our testimony through speaking and writing, but we might not have realized that there was an element missing all the time. I know that there are so many in our Church (JMCIM) whose fervor in winning souls has not waned a bit throughout the passing of time, but I definitely can’t speak the same for myself. When I examined myself, I found out that I have slackened my grip on my desire for the salvation of others. All the while, I believed this was just normal, thinking that we really couldn’t push our faith to others, even to family and friends.

But I realized that this slackening, this relaxing, was taking longer and complacency was actually slowly creeping in. How could I say that when all the time I had been writing prolifically on my blog about the Gospel? I must confess, it lacked the element of urgency. Yes, urgency. When we take action to win souls for Christ, the driving force behind it is not reluctant obedience – you know, just to show God that we’re doing our assignment – but the thought that every second that passes, the unsaved is in the brink of falling into the Pit, that it might already be too late for them.  We have to really care for their salvation

I want to see it this way (and therefore, would move accordingly): the salvation of souls is an emergency. It is as if we only have little time, and indeed we only have today, to do what we need to do. That alone should move us into action. This is “redeeming the time”.

There are reasons why our urgency gradually slides into complacency.

Indifference and Coldness of Others

There was a season that I profusely shared God’s truth and testimonies to loved ones, spending almost the whole day talking about testimonies after testimonies. They might have been touched and believed for from then on, they would ask for prayer whenever the need arose, but that wasn’t enough for them to receive the Lord Jesus Christ and be baptized in water in His name. They still preferred the old life, the religion that they were born into and grew up with. And though we’re definitely not giving up, our fervency hibernates indefinitely, but until when? I know I need to come out of my cocoon, to wake up from my complacency and begin winning my loved ones feverishly once again.

Fear of Persecution

Maybe we don’t want to hear people say all manner of hurtful words or insults about our faith. But that’s taking it to the extreme. What I had been guilty of was feeling quite embarrassed when I speak about Jesus and my faith, and the people I talk to made attempts to ignore the topic. I then learned to be discreet in bringing up the topic of salvation. But maybe I had become overly cautious to the extent of neglecting to do what I needed to do.

We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)

I admire the second-generation movers of our Church. I want to specifically mention beloved Teth (one of our beloved pastor’s children) and her beloved husband, Minister Luke Smith. They have settled in America with their four children but they make it a point to come home to Manila yearly to minister, sacrificing their children’s schooling. Just last Saturday, Oct. 27, the couple organized a concert for the youth entitled Jesus Miracle Youth Crusade Freedom Concert. Hannah and her Dad went to the concert while I stayed home and watched via live webcast. I was amazed at the preparation they had put into it in just a matter of weeks. Thousands attended, most of them youth.

The special numbers presented were all anointed – singing, special testimony, play, and the invitation to receive salvation. I was blown away by the power and glory of the Savior.  Beloved Teth and Minister Luke, together with their family and siblings, gave their all and it was so soul-stirring – such an inspiration! They shook the foundations of the stadium, so to speak, with their all-out, indefatigable singing and worship that hundreds of the youth that came received Jesus Christ. But it wasn’t only a great opportunity to bring salvation to the youth, it was also a time of revival for believers like me.

Their zeal speaks of how important and urgent the matter of salvation is.

******

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A leather-bound, embossed designed KJV Bible from Christianbook.com.

Veron Pagulayan

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Thank you to all who joined!

God bless you!

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My gratitude list ~ the gifts I received from the hand of the Lord:

  • finishing 8 days of half-day fast
  • victorious Jesus Miracle Youth Crusade Freedom concert
  • spiritual revival: soul was stirred; blessed beyond expectations!
  • for brethren in Christ who inspire!
  • laughing with family until tummy hurt
  • true and durable joy
  • long and tight hugs
  • amazing, faith-fortifying testimonies
  • Hannah having had a wonderfully blessed time during the youth concert
  • slow cooker meals
  • Tim singing his kindergarten songs loudly
Photo courtesy of Sis. Helen Grace Arcilla.
I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

What Surrender Truly Means

We surrendered our lives when we received the Lord Jesus Christ and let Him reign in us. But, as I had found out, the years go by and we come to realize that there may still be many things that we are holding back. The heavy burden that we carry every now and then may prove that we have not surrendered all to Him. For He himself promised that when we come to Him, He will give us rest from our labors and heaviness (Mat. 11:28).

This heavy burden that we insist to pick up and carry and go about our days hauling it  may come in different packages.

On our own, trying our best to analyze our problems and always straining to find ways to solve them (problems with the self, marriage, children, work, etc.).

Always striving to be good and do good in the sight of God and man, but the burden is heaviest when we fail and err, stumble even.

The guilt, shame, and inner turmoil our failures and shortcomings bring.

The fear of displeasing God for giving in to our emotions, for being easily provoked, for lacking self-control, for forgetting His commandments in the heat of the moment, for failing to be a light to others, and for just being plain foolish and weak in a moment’s time! The fear of losing His favor, of not receiving His blessing but His chastisement instead. Even the fear that He may decide to take me already that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus (Remember 1 Cor. 5:5?). And naturally, I greatly hold on to my life. As far as I’m concerned, all THAT is heavy!

These negative emotions that come to visit every now and then – envy, comparisons, self-pity, discouragements, discontent, hunger, unfulfilled dreams, pesky desires and wants that we know are not aligned with God’s will. The struggle, the energy used to try to curb them, and the feelings of guilt and shame why we even have them close to our hearts and minds! They maybe godly desires and dreams but they carry with them the heavy burden of hunger.

I had all these at one time or another and while I sat there sobbing and feeling all the turmoil swirling within me and thinking (and at the same time listening to that inner voice!), “So, when will you pick up yourself and stop all these already!” (It was more of a shout than a question), I was at the same time wondering what the Lord Jesus could be thinking of my miserable state!

To have the fear of God is a good thing, but to try to hold on to all these things and muster every ounce of strength to carry the heavy burden will.not.work. And so one night, hauling all my burdens on my back, I dared approach the Lord. For one who had wonderfully messed up all good intentions, it was even hard to approach at all. But we have nowhere else to go. And we know that in the Lord, one would always find mercy. He has always room for a broken and contrite heart. 

This is the way we can approach the throne of grace boldly, not that we are confident because of our perfect performance (for we miserably fail, don’t we?), but because we know He is perfect to forgive; He is strong to lift us up, and His love is complete to cover our shortcomings.

And that night, I gave Him all that I had been holding. Every.single.one.of.them. I did not leave anything un-surrendered.

Until we fully learn to hand over to Him all that we carry, surrendering absolutely EVERYTHING to Him (fears, problems, confusions, hurts, hunger, desires, dreams…) and not holding back anything, we will never truly find rest. Only in COMPLETE SURRENDER shall we find rest for our souls (emotions, mind, will).

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Glimpses of Glory

(Meditating on Psalm 66)

Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth!
Sing out the honor of His name;
Make His praise glorious.

All the earth shall worship You
And sing praises to You;
They shall sing praises to Your name.” Selah (Psalm 1,2,4)

Psalm 66, as most psalms are, is a psalm of praise. These are stanzas upon stanzas of words of worship flowing freely from the psalmist’s heart to the Lord God Almighty.

Worship is a vital part of our life in the Lord. When we turned to God and received His salvation, our previously-dead spirits were quickened by His life-giving Spirit and we were regenerated. Born again. Born in the Spirit. Having a new life. Our spirits are now connected to the one true, living God, and we live to worship Him. We worship Him because it is what our quickened spirits long to do: to exalt Him with our songs and praises that come from hearts and souls overflowing with gratitude. We just can’t stop it. He is worthy of all our praise.

And we worship Him because our spirits need to drink from the wellspring of life. We need to be constantly filled by His life-giving Spirit. This is how we grow. This is where our real needs are met: peace and joy and healing! His Spirit is the oil that keeps our lights burning.

At the first line of the song, some of the kids in the Children’s Choir were at once filled by the Holy Spirit and they were caught up by its mighty power, shaking, crying, uttering words only the Spirit could know and understand. And they fell on their knees there on the riser, hands raised, tears streaming down their faces. At the chorus, most of them were caught up by the moving of the Spirit and the mighty sound it produced resounded throughout the stadium.

The chorus was sang over and over and over, yet, the powerful Presence lingered still. The kids were drenched with their tears and perspiration, but the Spirit of the Lord stayed for more minutes.

I have always thought that as much as God’s children are hungry for Him, God also longs for them. For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.” (2 Cor. 6:16)

I have heard testimonies of worshipers how they had seen angels rejoicing and singing with the choirs as they lift up praise and worship. It is so faith-invigorating to hear and know that our dearest Father, our Savior and King, rejoices with us when we worship with all that is in us. For the joy of the LORD is our strength (Neh. 8:10).

Oh, bless our God, you peoples!
And make the voice of His praise to be heard. 
(Psalm 66:8)

(Photo no. 2, JMCIM worship service in Amoranto Stadium, courtesy of Bro. Ed Cortez)
Might be linking up with A Holy ExperienceBetter Mom MondaysDomestically DivineRaising HomemakersBrag on God FridayEncourage My HeartSpiritual SundaysState of the HeartTeach Me TuesdayTeaching What is GoodTitus 2sdaysWomen in the Word WednesdayWomen Living Well

Called in Weakness and Brokenness

I know for certain that had not the Lord stripped me off of all that made me proud and self-sufficient (first, my health and strength, then, as a result of this, went my career also), I wouldn’t have easily surrendered my whole life to Him. But it wasn’t only illness that changed the course of my life, enabling me to receive the gift of grace and transforming my life altogether, but it was more due to the brokenness that sin had wrought in me.

At the fullness of all the folly and sinfulness, God is so gracious to send fear in one’s whole being; fear so real and raw and life-threatening that the sinner realizes there is NO OTHER who can deliver him or her from it but the One who has sovereign power over his or her life. So, fear, in this respect, is a tool which God wields over the sinner to bring him or her to repentance. When the Lord called me, I approached with so much fear enveloping my whole being (fear, not toward Him who mercifully saves, but fear that comes from sin and which threatens to destroy one’s very existence). There was no feeling of pride from past performances and accomplishments. There was only brokenness: a sick body and spirit.

I knew then that I was one of those mentioned in 1 Cor. 1:26-28:

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are.

I know from testimonies I’ve heard that God calls the simple (in wisdom) and poor and weak, but He has called me, too, at the height of my fear (weakness) that paralyzed my otherwise brilliant mind and with a very sick body that was devoid of strength. And if I’m humble and honest enough to admit, I have been called, too, among the base things of the world and the things which are despised (v. 28), for not only the drug addicts and drug pushers, murderers, rapists, and good-for-nothing drunkards and revilers fall into this category, but also the impeccably-suited, excellent-mannered adulterers and adulteresses that lead corporations, and the spotless Barong Tagalog-clothed, smart-talking corrupt government officials, and whoever hides behind a ‘clean’ facade to cover up one’s sinfulness and brokenness. Aren’t these what the Lord talks about in Matthew 23:27? “You are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.”

I was called in weakness and brokenness, what was there to glory of? Nothing, except in the cross. For in the cross, my sin and shame and all my brokenness were nailed and I was healed.

How then could my sibling who was proud of me (all my siblings were and I believe up to now) of all my worldly success, and who looked up to me tell me to just stop it already and return to my old self and old life. I assume they almost couldn’t stand it – the Christlikeness – for it is entirely different from the life they used to enjoy with me. Of course, I understood and forgave my sister’s ignorance.

But if we are all honest and humble enough to acknowledge and admit our sinfulness and brokenness, we will all come to repentance and receive salvation of our souls. For we are all fallen people. If we are humble and brave enough to come out of our hiding, from our whited sepulchers, from our covering of self-righteousness, we will know and experience a life that is free from any and all kinds of bondage.

And this life is in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Might be linking up with A Holy ExperienceBetter Mom MondaysDomestically DivineRaising HomemakersBrag on God FridayEncourage My HeartSpiritual SundaysState of the HeartTeach Me TuesdayTeaching What is GoodTitus 2sdaysWomen in the Word WednesdayWomen Living Well

What a Sick Spirit Really Needs

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

The above verse is my life verse. It just about sums up my life story, my testimony. For those who are new to Healing Moments, you may click these links to read more of my story: Found in Him, Only Jesus, Holy Encounters with Jesus: The Woman Taken in Adultery.

Notice that the verse has two parts:

A life in sin

A life in Jesus

A life in darkness, a life in the light. A life in fear, a life in peace. A life in misery, a life in joy. A life defeated, a life victorious. A life that leads to death, a life that leads to eternal life.

This is the formula of life. The Lord Jesus Christ couldn’t have expressed it more clearly, but to the ones who are ignorant of His words of life, patient and physician – both will stay lost in the dark.

Such was my experience…

I wait for this priest in a small parish near my office. The secretary has told me he has many engagements for the whole day, but I tell her I will wait anyway. And at lunch time, the young priest attends to me. I tell him I’m sick and I don’t know how I could find healing, having seen many specialists and gone through various tests. He tells me, quoting the words of the Apostle Paul, “For when I’m weak, then, I’m strong.” I don’t really understand it, but he’s in a hurry so I must leave.

Dusk is falling, my whole being is trembling with fear, my mind just can’t find rest, and I know I can’t face another night like this. So, I drive to this bigger parish far from home, the one where my husband and I were married. I wait, again, for the priest, this time to finish his cigarette. He inhales long, one last of that toxic smoke, tosses the cigarette butt to the ground, then motions me to follow him. We talk and he advises me to see a psychiatrist. He recommends one whom he used to see. I leave the church more depressed than ever.

I wait for days before I finally decide to see a psychiatrist. I choose a female thinking that maybe it would be more comfortable for me. For weeks my body and mind have been feeling so weak, and my heart has been constantly in fear and anxiety. I enter into a dimly-lit room. There are two cozy chairs, the psychiatrist is sitting in one. We talk. I tell her about my life for the past two years, and how I so want to make it right. I tell her how I want to leave the darkness and emerge into the light. That maybe then I will heal.

She tells me that it’s perfectly okay to follow my heart, to choose that relationship which makes me happy. She speaks while I stare hard at the painting on the wall. She sounds just like my self-help books. This is a dead-end road. There’s definitely no hope here. I stare as my world becomes dimmer.

I buy the pills she prescribed – five kinds or so. I don’t know what they are. She told me they will help lift up my spirit. I didn’t believe her, but I buy them anyway. Now I stare at them, 5 little white rounds on top of the dark granite counter. How can these tiny tablets help me? How can they take away the sin, the guilt, the shame, the confusion, the darkness, the heaviness, the hopelessness, the illness, the sense of being so lost? How can they bring in joy and peace? It’s just not possible! I swallow them and I know I just burrowed my soul deeper into darkness and hopelessness.

My ailing body wants to reject the pills. I shake to the core so hard I just think my whole being will come undone and my breath will fail. With 2 thick blankets, a comforter and my husband’s body pinning me down, the pills kick in and I go into a deep sleep.

The next day when I woke up at noon, my body feeling like it was alloyed with lead (I felt literally heavy and stiff), I prayed. A simple, short prayer but nevertheless reached heaven’s mercy seat.

What the devil has stolen, destroyed and killed cannot be restored, fixed, or revived by any other but the Redeemer, Restorer, and Savior Jesus Christ. The cure-all for the spirit’s maladies is the blood of Jesus – His very life. 

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (portion of John 10:10)

Linked up with Titus 2sday, Domestically Divine, Encourage My Heart, Teach Me Tuesday, State of the Heart, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Women Living Well, Women in the Word Wednesday, Faith Filled Friday, Spiritual Sundays, Sharing His Beauty

Into the Sanctuary

(Meditating on Psalm 59)

Deliver me from my enemies, O my God;
Defend me from those who rise up against me.
Deliver me from the workers of iniquity,
And save me from bloodthirsty men. 
(Psalm 59: 1-2)

David had his huge share of enemies and oh, how he deplored them! But we have our own portion of enemies, too. Not that we make enemies, but somehow, in our walk with the Lord, there are people who come to our lives to attack us. Sadly, we have had our share of the enemy’s cruelty lately. Using people whom we’ve shown goodness, the enemy maligns us, scoffs at us. It is overly wearisome as it is painful.

And I wonder, how does one bear more of this? One may feel hurt, get sick and tired, or rage silently, but towards what? Or to whom? Sometimes, might it be towards the sovereign One who has control of all these? And a hurt and raging heart may think that there is no help from God, asking silently, “Is He for us or against us?”

And that is a painful thing to go through – to be so hurt and confused it’s just overwhelming! But where does a weary spirit turn and run to? Definitely not more of the world! For isn’t the world which brings all this pain?

One may feel like being so entangled with the world’s harshness that it seems it clings in one’s very skin, fraying the flesh and spirit. So how does one shake off the asp’s venom? I know none other but the Savior who loved me and died for me even when I was a sinner.

So, at dawn, when undisturbed silence finds our family and neighborhood in deep slumber, I rise, my body, heart and spirit all aching. I know there’s nobody in the whole wide world who could soothe all pain like a balm. I begin to sing, just singing and remembering God’s majesty and power, knowing that He deserves ALL praise, thanksgiving and honor, no matter what.

When we honor Him with all that is within us, He will honor us in return and receives our humble offering of praise. And so, as I sing this third song, a medley, What a friend we have in Jesus…/And I cherish the old rugged cross… His presence descends and tears trickle down. Warmth envelopes my head down to my toes and the trembling cells of this weary body find rest at last in His unfailing love. Ah, I give glory to God for I have always known His peace that passeth all understanding! And I know He will defend and protect us from those who try to do us harm.

But I will sing of Your power;
Yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning;
For You have been my defense
And refuge in the day of my trouble.
17 To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises;
For God is my defense,
My God of mercy. (Psalm 59: 16-17)

Amen and Amen!

Linked to Spiritual Sundays, Sharing His Beauty, Titus 2sday, Domestically Divine, Encourage My Heart, State of the Heart, Women Living Well, Women in the Word Wednesday, Faith Filled Friday